BOB HIRSHON (host):
The malaria parasite’s smell strategy. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
People infected with the malaria parasite may attract even more of the mosquitoes that spread it – especially when it’s most contagious. This according to Penn State University ecologist Mark Mescher and his colleagues. Building on evidence from human cases, Mescher’s team took a close look at mice, before and after infection. They found that the mice, once infected, gave off a scent that was higher in several odor chemicals and more attractive to mosquitoes.
MARK MESCHER (Penn State University):
But particularly during a specific stage of infection, where the malaria gametocytes – the transmissible stage of the parasite – were still present in high levels in the infected mice.
The findings may lead to new strategies for controlling malaria: for example, by using the odors as bait for mosquito traps, or by using the odors to diagnose asymptomatic infections in humans. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.